Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad, left, tries to stop as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien picks up a loose puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver, Friday, March 8, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The Colorado Avalanche had a rough week last week, but they bounced back in a big way on Tuesday night, blowing out the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-1. Corey Crawford got yanked from the game after giving up three first period goals, and the cushion was all Semyon Varlamov needed as he made 40 saves in the winning effort.
The game seemed to get off to a good start for the Hawks, as they got some fantastic opportunities on an early power play. Unfortunately for them though, the real narrative of the evening quickly emerged, as a turnover by Chicago led to a quick Colorado goal. Crawford came out of the net to play a puck that the Avalanche had dumped in, and when Brent Seabrook received the pass, he fired it off the end boards, presumably to swing it around to Duncan Keith. Instead, the puck bounced straight back out, and Paul Stastny whipped a wrist shot past Crawford to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later, the Avalanche once again established possession in the Hawks’ zone, and when Andre Benoit fired a shot from the point, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog was there to deflect it over Crawford’s mask for his seventh goal of the season to make it 2-0.
Less than a minute later, the Avalanche struck again, as Keith and Marcus Kruger drove in behind the Hawks’ net to chase the puck but allowed John Mitchell to set up wide open near the crease, and he put the shot past Crawford to give Colorado a 3-0 edge. After giving up his third goal in only seven shots, head coach Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford and inserted Antti Raanta, who made his NHL debut.
The Blackhawks did manage to keep the score within three for most of the second period, but at the end of the frame, the Hawks committed yet another error on a Jonathan Toews rush up the ice. Both Keith and Seabrook pinched in from the point, and Seabrook wasn’t able to get back in time, and the Avalanche jumped out on an odd man rush. In the end, it was PA Parenteau who brought the puck into the zone, and he uncorked a beautiful shot past Raanta to make it 4-0 with a minute and a half to go in the second period.
That offensive momentum for Colorado carried over into the third period too, as the Avalanche got another solid rush up the ice. Tyson Barrie took a fantastic shot from the faceoff circle, and even though Raanta was able to fight it off, Cody McLeod got inside position on Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the Hawks’ net and flipped home the rebound to put Colorado ahead 5-0.
The Blackhawks did get some good opportunities throughout the rest of the game, and Varlamov stopped all of them until eight minutes remaining in the game. Finally, the Patrick Kane line got some great pressure on the front of the net, and when a rebound trickled out from the crease, it was Brandon Saad who flipped a backhanded shot off of Varlamov’s pad to get the Blackhawks on the board, but still trailing 5-1.
In the end, the Blackhawks outshot the Avalanche by a 37-23 margin, but that discrepancy was overcome by the fact that many of Chicago’s opportunities were one-and-done affairs, and the Avalanche made sure to clear the puck out quickly too, picking up 14 takeaways in the game.
The Blackhawks will next take to the ice on Thursday night when they head up to Manitoba to take on the Winnipeg Jets. The Hawks have won their first two games against the Jets this season.